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Around a week ago, details on a rumored Virgin Mobile plan pricing refresh emerged, showing more expensive 300 and 1200 minute options but a cheaper unlimited voice plan. Today Virgin Mobile confirmed that the changes are indeed taking place. Beginning on July 20th, Virgin Mobile plans will look like this:

  • 300 minutes and unlimited messaging/data for $35 per month (up from $25)
  • 1200 minutes and unlimited messaging/data for $45 per month (up from $40)
  • Unlimited voice, messaging, and data for $55 per month (down from $60)

Customers currently on one of the $25/$40/$60 options will be able to keep those plans after July 20th as long as they keep their accounts active and don't change plans. Virgin Mobile will also be dropping its $10 "BlackBerry Bolt-On" fee on the 20th, which is great news for anyone using one of RIM's smartphones on the service. What isn't so great, though, is that Virgin announced that it plans to begin throttling data speeds of heavy users in October. Customers will still have unlimited data access once the change takes effect, but users will have their speeds throttled after hitting 2.5GB of data usage in one month. When the next month begins, speeds will return to normal.

Finally, Virgin Mobile confirmed that the Motorola Triumph will be launching on July 20th alongside the new plan pricing.

So there you have it. I'm sure some folks are going to be bummed that Virgin's two cheapest pre-paid plans are getting a price bump, but they're still pretty good deals. As for the throttling, I can't say I'm terribly surprised about the change considering that just about every other carrier in the nation is moving to either data tiers or throttling. What do you all make of Virgin's announcements today?

Virgin Mobile New Beyond Talk Plans Offer Unlimited Data Plan With No Contract
Android Devices and Unlimited Data are Best Value at $35/Month1 —No Caps or Overage on Data Usage— Also Unlimited Data, Messaging and Voice at $55

WARREN, N.J. (BUSINESS WIRE), July 13, 2011 - Changes to pricing and data usage costs are a familiar topic in the wireless industry these days, and customers are beginning to understand that the dramatic increase of smartphone usage and mobile internet access, now and in the future, means many carriers are making adjustments to their plans.

According to Nielsen’s May 2011 survey of mobile consumers in the United States, 38 percent now own smartphones. Of those consumers, 38 percent own an Android™-powered device. Further, 55 percent of those who purchased a new handset in the past three months reported buying a smartphone, up from 34 percent just a year ago.2

Virgin Mobile successfully repositioned itself last year with its Beyond Talk plans, catering to the growing number of savvy connectors who want unlimited data. With the brand moving from inexpensive pay-as-you-go and feature phones to a more smartphone-focused lineup, Virgin Mobile will change the current Beyond Talk pricing plans effective July 20.

New Beyond Talk Plans

New Virgin Mobile plans lower the monthly price of unlimited data, text and voice to only $55 and offer the still unbeatable2 value of unlimited data and 300 voice minutes at $35 per month on smartphones without a contract.

Effective July 20, the Virgin Mobile new Beyond Talk plans will be:

                                                                                                                        
Existing             New Beyond          Messaging/          Anytime                  Existing           New Blackberry
Beyond Talk        Talk                           Data                Minutes               Blackberry              Bolt-On
Rate/Month       Rate/Month                                                                       Bolt-On                       
$25                       $35                       Unlimited               300                        $10                       $0
$40                       $45                       Unlimited              1200                       $10                       $0
$60                       $55                       Unlimited             Unlimited                 $10                       $0
 
Existing Beyond Talk Virgin Mobile customers as of July 19 can keep their current plan pricing as long as they don’t let their account expire, and they can upgrade to new devices without incurring additional costs.

“Smartphone adoption has grown significantly with mobile data traffic increasing to match,” said David Trimble, vice president for Virgin Mobile USA. “Adjusting these rates ensures that our Beyond Talk customers can continue to enjoy the best value overall in the market for Android devices with unlimited data and messaging. In fact, I challenge you to find a better monthly unlimited data plan for Android devices than the Beyond Talk at $35.

“And offering unlimited data, messaging and voice usage for only $55 – $5 per month less than the current plan – combined with our impressive smartphone line up is also a great option for customers looking for totally unlimited connectivity.”

Data Speeds

Last week, Verizon pulled its unlimited data plan; T-Mobile and AT&T have also moved away from unlimited data usage. At this time, only Sprint, which owns Virgin Mobile USA, has truly unlimited postpaid mobile data plans in place.

Beginning in October 2011, Virgin Mobile will also move to reduce data speeds when a customer’s data usage exceeds 2.5GB in a month but still provide unlimited 3G access without a contract, usage cap, overage or activation fees. Based on current usage patterns, fewer than 3 percent of Virgin Mobile USA customers use more than 2.5GB of data usage per month. After reaching this level, this minority of customers may experience slower page loads, file downloads and streaming media. When a customer’s next month begins, the data usage meter starts back at zero with unlimited 3G speeds.

According to Roger Entner, analyst and founder at Recon Analytics, “The unrelenting data tsunami is challenging all carriers. So that every subscriber receives their fair share of affordable bandwidth, new policies are being introduced such as speed throttling for the heaviest users. Such policies help to ensure that a small minority does not prevent the vast majority from enjoying the wireless internet in the palm of their hand.”

“We are all facing the same situation and this is the best way for Virgin Mobile to maintain the best network experience as data usage explodes,” said Trimble. “Our no-contract and postpaid competitors like Cricket, MetroPCS and T-Mobile have either implemented more stringent constraints and/or don’t disclose slower speeds and data caps. We believe this adjustment – with no hard cap or overage charges for more usage – gives the most value to the largest group of consumers. It’s important to Sprint and the Virgin brand that we be as up-front as possible with our customers.”

For more information about the new Beyond Talk plans, please visit our website Media Room. Virgin Mobile also said the Motorola Triumph™ will be available for sale as of July 20.


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